South by Southwest (officially abbreviated to SXSW) is a series of music, film and interactive festivals and conferences held every spring in Austin, Texas.
Although mainly held in the Austin Convention Center, parts of the other festivals and conferences also take place in surrounding venues.
The event, split into SXSW Film, SXSW Music and SXSW Interactive run independently, each with different opening and ending dates.
2013 acts have been confirmed. 2014 dates are suspected to be releases shortly after the 2013 event finishes.
2013 MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS: Alt-J, Major Lazer, Andrew W.K, Toro Y Moi, Aloe Blacc, Black Lips, Angel Haze, AZARI & III, Bonobo, Everything Everything, Sky Ferreira, CHVRCHES, Of Mice and Men, Klaxons, Gallows, Bastille, Haim, Modestep and many more.
2013 FILM HIGHLIGHTS: Fede Alvarez's Evil Dead, Stephen Finnigan's Hawking, Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing, Alex Winter's Downloaded, Dan Mazer's I Give It A Year and many more.
2013 CONVENTION HIGHLIGHTS: deadau5 & Richie Hawtin: Talk. Techo. Technology
By covering Music, Film, and Interactive projects, the programmes for each subject are individual festivals in their own right.
Amongst film and music enthusiasts, the crowd will also have a lot of media persona present, such as journalists and other important press figures.
Members of the general public are likely to make up a larger percent of those interested in the music acts and film screenings, however the open nature of tickets and registration mean that the festival isn't restricted to certain clientele.
Later years have also seen appearances from internet celebrities and popular social media figures.
It helps to be in good shape as you will be doing a lot of walking.
Venues and format
Overall the event is split into three main categories:
Though the number can change, the event on average is spread across 15 venues.
There is also the four day trade show which includes a Block Party, The Next Stage for presentation and The Meet Up Pavilion - a great chance for B2B networking.
To attend SXSW you must register online to be able to purchase the following tickets:
- Platinum Badge $1595
- Gold Badge $1350
- Music badge $795
- Film Badge $650
- Interactive Badge $1150
A general rule is that the earlier you buy, the cheaper the tickets will be.
The most expensive Badge is the Platinum Badge and is essentially the ultimate all access pass.
- In terms of networking it's important to not just concentrate on talks but try to attend parties and other networking opportunities as you never know who you might meet.
- Take lots of business cards with you +"SXSW SARS" People from all around the world will be mixing there, meaning all kinds of bacteria being mixed, be sure to take vitamins for your immune system to avoid getting ill.
- While queues are a great way to meet people, if you are dead set on attending something get there 30 mins before.
- It's not secret that SXSW can be stressful, be sure to take advantage of the morning-yoga sessions that are run
Originally a strictly adult event, as years progress the festival has gone to provide separate entertainment suitable for children, a lot of it free.
The festival aim to make the event as accessible as possible with disabled seating at all events where seating is provided, as well as accessible port-o-potties where others are presents.
There are also free shuttle services on offer, if you have any particular requirements or questions, you can drop an email to [email protected]
While Austin is generally nice most of the year, this time of year can have the potential to be stormy as it is in the cusp of the winter period.
The festival takes place across many venues surrounding the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas, USA.
There is plenty to do in Austin, Texas!
Make sure you visit the local Zilker Park, a great and beautiful recreational area.
Another thing that is a must to do is to take advantage of the area's strong newspaper and magazine culture, as soon as you arrive pick up a freely available Austin Chronicle which will be your guide to what is going on in the area.
Other local amenities to enjoy includes wine tours, ghost tours, food festivals and the many great places to eat!
BY PLANE: Austin Bergstrom International Airport is the nearest for international and domestic air travel.
What to wear
If you are intent in attending as much as you can, suitable comfortable shoes and a bag or rucksack to free your hands will be handy, as if you are sticking to a strict schedule you will be moving around a lot.
This is a non camping event, please check the above Accommodation section for details of where to stay.
Although the main hub of activity can be found at the Austin Convention Center, it's important for first timers to do their research as many of the events and activities take place in other areas in Austin, Texas.
GADGET CHARGING There will either be charge lockers (usually sponsered by AT&T) as well as Branded people walking around with Charge Jackets with USB ports. (Coming soon - Our recommendations on battery packs for emergency situations)
WI-FI It is available all round but for heavy use it gets loaded down pretty quick, many bloggers advise writing things offline then preparing them for upload rather then blogging instantly
Food and drink
It really is worth doing your research of food vendors and bars in the area, many offer discounts to registrants f the festival as long as you show them your pass.
Another important part of the festival is the monumental Trade Show, that takes place over 4 days. The trade show also includes a block party, a presentation stage show and a B2B networking Meet Up Pavilion.
To take part there is an official contact form on the website here
Perform at the festival
You can apply to appear in a showcase, however deadline dates and application fees apply, with 2013 application currently closed.
If you want to play or appear at the 2014 event, it's best to start researching as soon as the 2013 event has finished.
Volunteer or work
CLOSED FOR 2013
Like many large scale events SXSW thrives off the help of volunteers, for more information click here. Among the many perks involved, the longer you are willing to volunteer, the higher a festival pass you will earn!
The hours are subject to change but as a general rule of thumb, here is what you can expect to earn.
- 50 – 59 hours = VOLUNTEER FILM or INTERACTIVE BADGE or MUSIC WRISTBAND
- 60 – 79 hours = VOLUNTEER GOLD or MUSIC BADGE
- 80 hours or more = VOLUNTEER PLATINUM BADGE
If you can't attend, Ustream often provide an online way for you to view the festival.
While many fan made ones are produced every year, the official app created by the festival is called SXSW GO, which allows you to do the following:
- View, build and share your schedule
- Network with other attendees
- Navigate the trade show
- Sync your schedule with your mobile phone so you are always up to date.
Available from the official site for use on the iPhone, iPad and Android.
1987 was when the first South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival was held.
Although Austin was not viewed as a major market at it's launch, the cosmopolitan feel of Austin, coupled with the international appeal of the large University of Texas made the area ideal.
The closeted nature of Austin meant that musicians and business previously found it hard to reach out to the rest of the USA and the world, so SXSW was seen as the opportunity to do just that.
International interest began to pick up in the second year, largely due to the success of SXSW American Alumni bands gaining fanbases abroad.
Since its creation the number of people registering for attendance has grown from 700 in 1987, to over 16,000 in more recent years.
At the 2013 Prince closed the festival with an almost three hour set.
Showcasing Artists: Akina Adderley & the Vintage Playboys, Balthazar, Cashier No.9, Delay Trees, Fanzine, He's My Brother She's My Sister, I Got You On Tape, Love Inks, Maxim Ludwig & The Santa Fe Seven, 120 Days, Pure Love and Turbogeist. Full details of the lineup can be found here
Keyspeaker Bruce Springsteen has been announced as this year's keynote speaker, to see the amazing 25 year history of who has been a SXSW Keynote speaker in past, click here
Film Line-up: The Film programme is further explained in the 'SXSW Film Festival Details' section lower down in the wiki, however 2012 include the following: 2012 Feature Category Highlights: Paul, Source Code, Super, Becoming Santa and 96 Minutes, 2012 Shorts Category Highlights: Sophie, Ex-Sex, Room 4 Rent and 100 Bands In 100 Days.
SXSW Interactive:With over 600 accepted presentations, discussions, book readings and workshops, we have listed ten highlights for each campus, this way instead of reading all 600 of the proposals, you can judge by the examples which venue or campus would be more suited to your taste. Click here for details.